Thursday, 5 December 2013

Week 42- Discovering my innard goddess

Sorry about the pun- but it's better than going down the 'offally good' route.

Also, the goddess slot seems to have become unexpectedly vacant this week...

Anyway, I hope you've realized that this week's blog celebrates offal. Look away now if you're squeamish.

Don't be too scared though- it's delicious, costs pennies and is good, rustic fare.

To start - I've made a chicken liver parfait with melba toast, for main course I've prepared an oxtail pot au feu with herb dumplings, and dessert- well, it can't really contain offal so it's pretend- mincemeat vol aux vents (to get us in Christmas mood).

400g of chicken livers cost me just 99p- and this recipe makes 6 parfaits (ready for freezing and serving up over Christmas week).You need said quantity of chicken livers, 2 small shallots finely chopped, 1 teaspoon of  minced garlic, 1 large glass of port, 200g of butter, some fresh chopped rosemary and seasoning including a good grating of nutmeg.

Snip up the livers with kitchen scissors and add them to a frying pan where you have already softened the shallot and garlic in some olive oil. Cook through, and when they are still pink, add the port, salt and pepper and nutmeg and a big knob of butter. Boil rapidly until the port has reduced by half and the livers cooked a bit more.
Pour all of this into a food processor and blitz until smooth. If you like your pate extra smooth and creamy, you can add some cream at this point. I like mine crumbly and dark so I've left it out.

Spoon into ramekins. Then clarify the remaining butter - melt in a saucepan and then strain into a jug, throwing away the milky solids which remain in the strainer. Pour the butter over the parfaits and leave to chill in the fridge. Freeze when completely cool- or serve straightaway with melba toast and chutney.
(Melba toast made from a sliced stale French loaf, sprinkled with olive oil and baked in the oven until brown and crispy. I make it whenever the oven is on already, and freeze it in a plastic container until I need it).
Chicken liver parfait with melba toast

The oxtail pot au feu is a bit more time consuming and should be done over several days.

First, I trim off any excess fat from the outside of the oxtail and put the pieces in 2 glasses of red wine to marinade overnight.
The next day, I sear the tail pieces in a hot pan and put in the slow cooker, along with the boiled marinade, 1 large chopped onion, 4  whole cloves of garlic, 2 sticks of celery, 2  large carrots, 1 sliced turnip or parsnip, 2 bay leaves, 1 ripe tomato or some puree and some mushroom stalks. Anything you have going spare in the vegetable drawer will add to the richness of the stock.
Leave to gently cook on low heat for the rest of the day (8-10 hours or so).

Leave overnight to cool, take out the bay leaves and strain off the liquid into a separating jug or bowl. Skim off all the fat.
Take the meat from the oxtail bone and put in a casserole dish, put any large pieces of celery, carrot or parsnip into the dish too. Press the remaining veggie slush through a ricer and add to the dish. Make the concentrated stock up to 500ml with hot water and a beef stock cube. Pour over the meat and veg and place in a medium oven for 30 minutes or so until bubbling.
To make the dumplings, mix 1 tablespoon of margarine or vegetable fat into 1 cup of seasoned flour with 1 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt added. Add a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs and mix the dry ingredients to a soft dough by slowly adding some milk.
Form into walnut sized balls, and place in the bubbling casserole.

After another 30 minutes, the stew is ready and the dumplings are swollen and cooked through.

Oxtail pot au feu with herb dumplings

Dessert is simplicity itself- leftover vol aux vents cases lurking in the bottom of the freezer, cooked until risen and puffy. A teaspoon of mincemeat ( the curranty mixture used for mince pies - not real meat!) into each one until hot and bubbling. Serve with ice cream.
Mincemeat vol aux vents

And not a pig's head in sight!

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